That’s not the whole story…
After a lengthy period of releasing various singles, London indie-pop outfit Gold Baby have now turned their attention to the release of their debut EP Rabbits.
Having gone through some line-up changes in recent years, Gold Baby now features founder Siân Alex alongside the talents of Sara Kleppe (bass) and Scott Hislop (drums). In 2019, this new incarnation of the band released the earthy ‘Philadelphia’ (see Wavegirl review previously), offering a composition that played around with intriguing narrative ideas.
Representing a more mature, more grounded aspect to the band, Rabbits serves up four new compositions that bounce between themes of moving on or being held back by something (or someone). “It’s as a collection of songs come together that an undercurrent kind of comes to the fore,” comments Alex on the EP, “something that was obviously ticking over in my mind at the time. I like using ‘morning pages’ when I’m coming up with lyric ideas to kind of dredge up whatever’s going on in my subconscious.”
There’s clearly a cathartic element to the songs that Alex composes, something which has been evident since her early days dabbling in music. “When I first started writing songs as a teenager, it was that I had something to get off my chest, and sitting down with a guitar and ranting was therapeutic,” she explains. “Now when I sit down to write, I’m driven more by a love of songwriting, or maybe I’ve got some ideas. Whatever comes up has threads of personal experience in it and inevitably every song that works is something that resonates in that way.”
A big element of Alex’s creative fire is driven by film. “I watch a lot of films and am fascinated by how a great filmmaker can use every minute decision as a chance to tell part of a bigger story, and how sound and visuals are used to create a really visceral world. I think of this when I’m writing and often imagine songs in colours, particularly when we’re arranging and recording/producing the tracks with Ian. Some of my favourite directors are Steve McQueen, Lynn Ramsay, Todd Haynes, and Marielle Heller.”
Some of the tracks on Rabbits have been lurking in Gold Baby’s musical arsenal for a while, including EP opener ‘Bodie’ (which had some early outings during some of the band’s live shows in 2019). There’s a lush sweep at work to this tune, but despite its softer aspects, it builds into a more muscular affair as it barrels along to its conclusion. ‘2041’ is a more fractured offering with a composition that has a few gear changes in the mix. As a result, it feels more raw in places than the rest of the material on the EP.
Meanwhile, ‘Captain Dorego’ offers up a warm, evocative mood – complete with a charming video (warning: video contains flashing images). It’s also a composition that takes its inspiration from a more offbeat idea. Based on the medieval concept of cockaigne — an imaginary place of extreme luxury and ease where physical comforts and pleasures are immediately at hand and where the harshness of medieval peasant life does not exist.
There’s also a visual punch to the lyrical narrative of ‘Captain Dorego’, with its nods to Steinbeck (reflected in the EP’s title) and tales of “sharing beds and bloody fights”. But ultimately it’s a piece that yearns for escape from modern life, with evocative lines about an idyllic land:
Can’t you see
that this busy life was not cut out for
someone like me
Although the song was penned pre-Covid, there’s something timely in its themes that reflect current circumstances. “I think a lot of normal life is just genuinely overwhelming” comments Alex, “and I was feeling frustrated that the focus is always on everything going faster and faster, and everyone just learning to accommodate a complete overload of information every day of our lives.”
There’s a more personal quality to the amazing ‘Betty’, which manages to be both intimate and also stirring at the same time. Described as “a meditation on femininity and womanhood”, it benefits from bouncing between softer engaging arrangements and edgier guitar fills.
“Betty is a representation of all that is beautiful and feminine,” explains Alex. “She’s like a Disney princess and I’m the creepy kid watching her, all mixed up about whether I want her to be my mum, or my girlfriend, or whether I want to be her.”
Rabbits was produced by Ian Flynn at werkhouse.uk, and mastered by Pete Mayer. This release is also supported by HelpMusicians (www.helpmusicians.org.uk/), an independent UK charity for professional musicians of all genres. The charity’s aims are to help musicians during times of crisis, but also to lend support during times of opportunity when they need to get through situations that could make or break their career.
Rabbits is out 26th of March 2021: https://goldbabyband.bandcamp.com/album/rabbits
Photo by Rachael Munro-Fawcett.